Mental, Physical, and Emotional Preparation
People continually search for a push to travel solo. They stand by for someone else to persuade them or seek signs to embark on this journey. Me? I was made for this. I’m highly independent, at times entirely too much for my own good. I’ve never considered independent travel as lonely or something that lacks. After all, alone and lonely aren’t synonymous.
Friends regularly question how I prepared for my initial travels alone. The truth is, I’ve been prepping my entire life. I arranged the trip without a second thought and never looked back. From adolescence, I’ve traveled to and from St. Lucia with just my younger sister, Cheeba. As the eldest, I held all responsibility. I frequently went to neighboring states on weekends independently as a pre-teen. My first solo plane ride was to California as a sophomore in high school. As my aunt remembers, she left the terminal in tears. I, on the other hand, had no emotion other than enthusiasm. She understood from then how much I enjoyed traveling and thought I would soon become addicted. She was not mistaken.
Preparation for independent travel is simple. The key is to allocate ample time alone before you go. Get accustomed to depending solely on yourself. Go to restaurants and enjoy meals unaccompanied. Attend outings and become involved in activities alone. Learn to appreciate your own company without feeling lonely.
While Warsaw was my introductory solo trip, I had numerous opportunities to dip my foot in the water. I traveled to many countries independently. Going days before my loved ones joined enabled me to appreciate my own company. For this reason, I felt remarkably comfortable going at it alone. It provides short-term freedom and hints at the potential of single travel.
Informing family and friends of your plans is potentially the most nerve-wracking element of the planning process. When people aren’t in the habit of doing things alone or traveling in general, the thought of going overseas by yourself alarms them. Don’t allow it to affect your decision. Let comments go in one ear and out the other. Although the remarks come with good intentions (hopefully), don’t let them prevent you from experiencing life. Who is someone else to determine how you should live your life because they’re scared of living their own? It’s not your responsibility to accommodate feelings when it forces you to put your life on hold.
I couldn’t have been more adequately prepared. In no way did I doubt my abilities to get around or meet my needs. If you’re anything like me, my advice for your first solo trip: do it. If you aren’t like me, the advice remains. You’re curious for a reason. You’ll never get to experience it or know how much you enjoy it if you don’t just go!
Introduction to Solo Travel
The planning of this vacation followed the same process that I do each time I travel. I chose to visit Warsaw after scanning RyanAir’s website for bargains. Although I can’t recall precisely how much I spent on the tickets, they totaled less than €30. Yes, not even 15 euro (including taxes and fees) each way. For context, I lived in Greece during that time. I used my booking.com account for my accommodation and didn’t make arrangements beyond that.
This small Polish city took my breath away. I’m unsure what my expectations were, but this city surpassed them. Warsaw was never a place that I felt I needed to prioritize. Simply put, the photos don’t do it justice. I stayed in the heart of downtown with a balcony overlooking the lively streets. The city was nothing like I thought. Imagine a small Toronto. The colorful, Instagram-worthy buildings that fill the streets of Old Town Market Square were covered in lights as the holiday season approached. Getting lost in the Christmas bazaars while locals encouraged fueling up with mulled wine for warmth was an unexplainable feeling that I long to feel again.
I enjoyed three days in Warsaw before traveling back to Athens. This was during a period when my trips were confined to weekends and late Monday afternoons. It was the ideal amount of time for my first solo trip. Obviously, I wouldn’t have regretted a day or two more, but Warsaw isn’t too big, and it was just a start for me and solo travel.
This European city is the perfect start for anyone desiring a solo vacation. It can be explored in a matter of days. The language barrier isn’t too difficult to overcome as most can communicate in English (and technology, duh!). As a young black woman, my safety concerned me. I heard horror stories that made my stomach turn, but I refused to enable it to shape my views on the country and its people, and it sure didn’t. This solo trip opened my eyes, and I’ve gone on numerous since. I’m grateful for Warsaw for now being a part of me and pushing me to continue to travel this world alone.